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GELATERIA ANTARTICA, Contemporary Art Gallery in Opole,
a long-term performance by

(artistic duo founded in 2021 by Barbara Szymczak and Nati Krawtz)

GELATERIA ANTARTICA is a three-week performance set against the sentimental backdrop of a 1970s Italian ice cream parlour, taking us back to a time when eating and consuming ice cream was still free from the burden of environmental guilt. The project is inspired by a quote from the 1967 book Direction Antarctica by Polish polar explorers Alina and Czesław Centkiewiczs, in which they describe the scale of the Antarctic’s ice. As the authors note, if all people on Earth wanted to eat Antarctic ice, each of them would have to swallow half a ton of ice per second, and this performance would have to last a whole year.*
The Centkiewiczs were writing at a time when Antarctic ice seemed an inexhaustible resource and with a volume that exceeded the bounds of human imagination. Imagining Antarctica melting seemed even more absurd than fantasizing about millions of people greedily devouring the ice. Indeed, the situation at the South Pole was not a crisis at that time. Some studies even suggest that the area of the polar ice sheet in the southern hemisphere increased in the 1960s and 1970s, before unfortunately beginning to shrink.
Today, we are facing a climate crisis whose effects are being most severely felt by circumpolar ecosystems. The Antarctic ice cap has shrunk by three trillion tons in the last 30 years. Meanwhile, Antarctica’s largest glacier, the Lambert Glacier, is being swallowed up by warm waters which could see ocean levels rise significantly within a few decades. Furthermore, a US National Science Foundation report found that Antarctica's penguin population has fallen by 75 percent over the last 50 years due to melting ice and shifts in food availability. Other forecasts suggest that the melting of Antarctica could contribute to a rise of 15 to 30 centimetres in global sea levels by the end of this century.

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